2017 Box Office: Global Revenue Hits Record $40B Even as Movie Attendance Plummets in U.S.

Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars and Fate of the Furious - Split - Publicity - H 2017
From left to right: Walt Disney Pictures, Lucasfilm, Universal Pictures

Revenue in North America for the year dipped 2.3 percent, but growth at the international box office resulted in a 3 percent uptick at the worldwide box office.

The performance of the 2017 worldwide box office was a roller-coaster ride.

Attendance plummeted in North America to a likely 27-year low, although an official tally won't come in until the average ticket price for the fourth quarter is calculated by the National Association of Theater Owners.

And while domestic ticket sales crossed $11 billion for only the third time in history to clock in at $11.12 billion, revenue dipped 2.3 percent from last year's record $11.4 billion, and was slightly behind 2015's $11.14 billion, according to comScore.

Globally, however, box-office revenue was up 3 percent after reaching an all-time high of $39.9 billion, according to comScore. The growth was thanks to a 6 percent uptick at the international box office, where ticket sales came in at an estimated $28.8 billion.

In 2016, worldwide revenue reached $38.6 billion, only 1 percent ahead of 2015. The gain in 2017 is welcome news for the film business.

And the revenue downturn in North America could have been far worse without such year-end holiday titles as Star Wars: The Last Jedi or Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Heading into the Christmas corridor, revenue was down by more than 4 percent.

The 2.3 percent downturn in North America was due in large part to one of the worst summer seasons in recent memory, despite such success stories as Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Dunkirk.

Topping the 2017 worldwide box-office chart were Disney's Beauty and the Beast ($1.26 billion), Universal's The Fate of the Furious ($1.23 billion) and Disney and Lucasfilms' The Last Jedi, which has earned $1.04 billion to date. The latest Star Wars installment is well on its way to becoming the top- grossing release of 2017. Other highlights of 2017 include a crop of smaller budgeted films that stretched the boundaries, including Warner Bros.' and New Line's It, which grossed $698 million against a $34 million production budget.

"Going to the movies is truly a worldwide phenomenon," says comScore's Paul Dergarabedian. "The big screen experience was bolstered by a unique and compelling slate of titles in 2017 that sparked an exceptional level of enthusiasm by patrons who flocked to movie theaters around the globe."

In North America, the disparity between the fall-off in movie attendance and the far less dramatic revenue downturn is due to the fact that attendance is calculated by dividing overall revenue by the average ticket price, which is ever on the rise, not adjusting for inflation. In Europe and elsewhere internationally, theater owners keep track of how many people walk through the door, but that's not the case in the U.S. and Canada.

Rounding out the chart of the five-top grossing films at the 2017 global box office are Universal/Illumination's Despicable Me 3 ($1.03 billion) and Sony/Marvel's Spider-Man: Homecoming ($880 million).